Hi, My name is Jane and I am a….

I feel like an outsider, like I do not fit in anywhere. This is not new but a feeling I have had all of my life. I even felt like an outsider in my own family and marriage. I feel constantly on guard and protective of who I let into my world. I get into groups and I feel like I am watching instead of participating. I expect to be left and abandoned. The stronger the bond the more anticipation of being hurt clouds the relationship. I am used to being betrayed. I expect it. My self-imposed isolation is my bastion. I am struggling to find a place in the world where I can fit in as I want to be accepted by others as I learn to accept myself.
Recently I had a talk with an authority on the subject of abuse only to find out I am actually a member of an extremely large group. 1 out of 3 women are sexually abused and for men, the numbers are 1 in 4. Staggering information. This is not a membership where people where name tags and say “HI, my name is Jane and I was sexually abused.” “HI, Jane!” Matters of fact, many members do not have a clear recollection of the event or events that make them qualify for membership. No one runs around bragging they are the Exalted Elder of the Order of Molested Children. The deeper the wound, the deeper the shame. And only those who have had this happen can truly understand the depth of the humiliation and pain that permeates everything they do.
I have a persona I put on which is not authentic, but I wear it as a suit of armor to protect me from being exposed. I do this because I think everyone can see the real me who was hurt and I see it as something I did wrong. Shame is a garment I have worn for my whole life, as my mistreatment started when I was extremely young. I did not know anything else. I did not even know all the sorted details of the sexual abuse until very recently when I was strong enough to work thought it. I am not done working, but I think some people expect a quick fix. We give time for a surgical wound to heal and this is even deeper. There is the exhaustion of the release. It takes great strength to heal and understand. And even more strength to forgive. Awareness comes with a cost.
It is hard for some to understand that when I am authentically me, my emotions are very strong and I know they can be overwhelming to others. It is why I shut down. My emotions are not always bad though. Recently I found something hysterically funny at work and burst into a rapt session of giggles. I allowed it and the exposure was uncomfortable for some as they had never seen me giggle that hard and long. I have an authentic giggle and it felt wonderful. Some laughed along; others seemed almost upset by the innocence of my joy. I used to feel free enough to do that a lot when I was younger and my friends accepted it and loved me for it. But somewhere in the later years I only allowed a very few trusted and longtime friends to see me that exposed.
The other exposure is crying. My gut hurts from withholding spontaneous crying, which seems to be better but is still happening. I have my triggers. I still do not cry comfortably in front of anyone, so I hide and stifle the feelings so no one knows. I was trained well that it is a sign of weakness. I am blessed because I have one person who I allowed to hold me recently and only once, when I was so filled with anguish that I could not contain it. That is the most amazing gift a person can give someone, the safety to cry in their arms without judgment; just total acceptance and compassion. I never had anyone hold me like that as a child. To allow that need to be fulfilled was very scary for me and to even think about it is now is uncomfortable for me. I was taught that needs like that are failures. Hence I have walled up and I am pushing the person away because the shame came back. The exposure is so great and is so powerful that it is one of those triggers that make me cry.
Unfortunately, I still feel like an outsider as I am sure do many who are part of this group. My membership in this club is valid. The subscription has been paid in full. The dues are very high. But, I am not alone as I have thought.

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